Sophia, notwithstanding her fright, presently knew her father’s voice; and his lordship, notwithstanding his passion, knew the voice of reason, which peremptorily assured him, it was not now a time for the perpetration of his villany. Hearing. therefore, the voice approach, and hearing likewise whose it was (for as the squire more than once roared forth the word daughter, so Sophia, in the midst of her struggling, cried out upon her father), he thought proper to relinquish his prey, having only disordered her handkerchief, and with his rude lips committed violence on her lovely neck.

If the reader’s imagination doth not assist me, I shall never be able to describe the situation of these two persons when Western came into the room. Sophia tottered into a chair, where she sat disordered, pale, breathless, bursting with indignation at Lord Fellamar; affrighted, and yet more rejoiced, at the arrival of her father.

His lordship sat down near her, with the bag of his wig hanging over one of his shoulders, the rest of his dress being somewhat disordered, and rather a greater proportion of linen than is usual appearing at his bosom. As to the rest, he was amazed, affrighted, vexed, and ashamed.

As to Squire Western, he happened at this time to be overtaken by an enemy, which very frequently pursues, and seldom fails to overtake, most of the country gentlemen in this kingdom. He was, literally speaking, drunk; which circumstance, together with his natural impetuosity, could produce no other effect than his running immediately up to his daughter, upon whom he fell foul with his tongue in the most inveterate manner; nay, he had probably committed violence with his hands, had not the parson interposed, saying, “For heaven’s sake, sir, animadvert that you are in the house of a great lady. Let me beg you to mitigate your wrath; it should minister a fulness of satisfaction that you have found your daughter; for as to revenge, it belongeth not unto us. I discern great contrition in the countenance of the young lady. I stand assured, if you will forgive her, she will repent her of all past offences, and return unto her duty.”

The strength of the parson’s arms had at first been of more service than the strength of his rhetoric. However, his last words wrought some effect, and the squire answered, “I’ll forgee her if she wull ha’un. If wot ha’un, Sophy, I’ll forgee thee all. Why dost unt speak? Shat ha’un! d—n me, shat ha’ un! Why dost unt answer? Was ever such a stubborn tuoad?”

“Let me intreat you, sir, to be a little more moderate,” said the parson; “you frighten the young lady so, that you deprive her of all power of utterance.”

“Power of mine a—,” answered the squire. “You take her part then, you do? A pretty parson, truly, to side with an undutiful child! Yes, yes, I will gee you a living with a pox. I’ll gee un to the devil sooner.”

“I humbly crave your pardon,” said the parson; “I assure your worship I meant no such matter.”

My Lady Bellaston now entered the room, and came up to the squire, who no sooner saw her, than, resolving to follow the instructions of his sister, he made her a very civil bow, in the rural manner, and paid her some of his best compliments. He then immediately proceeded to his complaints, and said, “There, my lady cousin; there stand the most undutiful child in the world; she hankers after a beggarly rascal, and won’t marry one of the greatest matches in all England, that we have provided for her.”

“Indeed, cousin Western,” answered the lady, “I am persuaded you wrong my cousin. I am sure she hath a better understanding. I am convinced she will not refuse what she must be sensible is so much to her advantage.”

This was a wilful mistake in Lady Bellaston, for she well knew whom Mr. Western meant; though perhaps she thought he would easily be reconciled to his lordship’s proposals.

“Do you hear there,” quoth the squire, “what her ladyship says? All your family are for the match. Come, Sophy, be a good girl, and be dutiful, and make your father happy.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.